Fatigue Symptoms During the First Year Following ARDS

Chest. 2020 Sep;158(3):999-1007. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2020.03.059. Epub 2020 Apr 15.


Background: Fatigue is commonly reported by ARDS survivors, but empirical data are scarce.

Research question: This study evaluated fatigue prevalence and associated variables in a prospective study of ARDS survivors.

Study design and methods: This analysis is part of the ARDSNet Long-Term Outcomes Study (ALTOS) conducted at 38 US hospitals. Using age- and sex-adjusted, time-averaged random effects regression models, we evaluated associations between the validated Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue Scale with patient and critical illness variables, and with physical, cognitive, and mental health status at 6 and 12 months following ARDS.

Results: Among ARDS survivors, 501 of 711 (70%) and 436 of 659 (66%) reported clinically significant symptoms of fatigue at 6 and 12 months, respectively, with 41% and 28% reporting clinically important improvement and worsening (n = 638). At 6 months, the prevalence of fatigue (70%) was greater than that of impaired physical functioning (50%), anxiety (42%), and depression (36%); 46% reported both impaired physical function and fatigue, and 27% reported co-existing anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Fatigue was less severe in men and in those employed prior to ARDS. Critical illness variables (eg, illness severity, length of stay) had little association with fatigue symptoms. Worse physical, cognitive, and mental health symptoms were associated with greater fatigue at both the 6- and 12-month follow-up.

Interpretation: During the first year following ARDS, more than two-thirds of survivors reported clinically significant fatigue symptoms. Due to frequent co-occurrence, clinicians should evaluate and manage survivors' physical, cognitive, and mental health status when fatigue is endorsed.

Keywords: acute lung injury; cognitive function; depression; disability; rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / epidemiology*
  • Fatigue / etiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / complications*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survivors
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology